On School Uniforms, GEP and Transparency
Let us take a cue from countries like Japan where students proudly wear their school uniforms.
Either the letter writer is trying to be cheeky (which I think is highly unlikely) or is totally ignorant that school uniforms in Japan serves more purpose than just outfits worn to school :)
Sometimes, there are articles that make me bang my head on the wall.... like this one about integration of the Gifted Education Programme (GEP) and non-GEP students. I am quoting the Education Minister, hopefully not out of context.
“There are some students not from the GE programme who are very strong in a particular area. It may be science, it may be maths, it may be literature and they can be mingled together with the GE students in those areas”
So basically, the idea is that a ‘mainstream’ student needs to be at least as good as a GE student in order to mingle with them. The onus is on the ‘normal’ student to improve his/her skills in at least one subject if he/she wants to be eligible to mix with the 'superior' GE students in secondary school. Interesting. Uniquely Singapore ‘talent meritocracy’ in the making perhaps :)
Sometimes, there are articles that make me throw up…. like this one which says that quality of leadership is more important than transparency.
It has been pointed out in this newspaper that the NKF episode underlined the importance of "openness at the highest level". But I would be concerned if Singaporeans were prepared to compromise on the quality of leaders for the sake of transparency. In particular, I am worried they may support opportunists who ride on this "openness" fad. A case in point is Taiwan, where the relentless pursuit of democracy and freedom of the media have thrown up leaders of less desirable moral character. Some may argue that the checks and balances arising from a transparent system would be sufficient to assure the quality of leaders. I am not sure real-world experience, both in the developed and developing countries, supports this. An obsession with transparency will lead to greater demands on the Government to explain its actions. People might expect the Government to investigate thoroughly every single allegation — even frivolous ones. A "fault finding" culture could develop. This will drain public resources and affect the effectiveness of the government. Another consequence of erosion of public confidence in leaders is that it will become more difficult for leaders to introduce tough and unpopular policies. The difficulties faced by the French and German governments in addressing the high unemployment rates in their countries is (sic) such an example.
When I read letters like the above, my first feeling (other than wanting to throw up) is to call the esteemed media companies here and tell them that their National Education efforts have borne fruit. Congratulations! You have succeeded is creating Singaporeans who point to bad things in other countries and say that a persistent quest for transparency here may miraculously come at the expense of leadership quality :)
Sometimes there are letters that make me poignant but that’s for another entry....